By RYAN MCCRACKEN on November 21, 2020.
Brian Davies is following in his coach’s footsteps.
The Crescent Heights Vikings middle linebacker and defensive end signed a letter of intent with the University of Alberta Golden Bears this week, putting Davies down the same path as his high school head coach, Sean Davis – and there’s no place he’d rather be.
“I kind of strive to be like him,” said Davies, adding he’s contemplating taking either criminology or education – which would allow him to teach and coach just like Davis.
“It’s been all my coaches. I know Coach Davis, he took over the program about three years ago and it’s only been going up. He created workouts before we were at Temple. He got this new clubhouse, obviously with the help of our booster club which is phenomenal, and he also helps us out in the classroom. We do study halls one or two times a week and he’s in there with us, either doing work or helping us get our grades up. That’s one of the biggest things for being a student-athlete, is being a student first, and we really strive to be good in the classroom before on the field.”
Davis was standing across the room as his graduating player spoke in beaming terms about the guidance he received over the past three years, but the Vikings coach was quick to shift the focus right back to his player – insisting he’s earned every yard and accolade that’s ever come his way.
“It’s an honour for kids to say that about you. I don’t do this job to get the credit, but I’m glad I had enough impact on Brian that he’s going to be able go and do some of the things that he’s going to do. I’m fortunate to have worked with him, not necessarily the other way around,” he said. “One of my greatest honours as a coach is having the opportunity to work with a kid like Brian.”
A perennial defensive player of the year for the Vikings and named the top defensive player in the Rangeland Football Conference for 2019, Davies made his presence known across the local league ever since stepping on the field in Grade 10.
“Brian is one of the most tenacious players that I’ve ever coached. He loves to hit, he loves football, but he’s also been an absolute leader on our team from the day that he got here,” said Davis. “I know if we had a traditional season this year, he would have been in the running for (top defensive player). Maybe even an MVP spot. He played everywhere we needed him to play, he did everything we asked him to do, and obviously it’s paying off.”
Davies’ three-year journey with the Vikings reached a pinnacle this fall when he was finally able to check one glaring box off his high school bucket list – defeating six-time reigning RFC champion Medicine Hat High School.
“It’s the only thing I really wanted to happen this year because obviously we couldn’t win a championship due to restrictions with COVID and stuff,” said Davies. “That was the biggest goal for all of us, just to kick the crap out of Hat High. We won two out of the three games and we were really happy with the results because we haven’t beat that team in a very long time.”
Despite not being able to compete for a championship this season, Davies says there were plenty of unforgettable highlights, from securing that elusive victory over Hat High to getting the chance to train with Calgary Stampeders defensive lineman Connor McGough – a CHHS alumnus who opted to coach with the Vikings as the CFL was placed on hold due to the pandemic.
“He’s just so knowledgeable in the game and he’s such a phenomenal athlete,” Davies said of McGough. “It’s really exciting for someone of that high calibre to come down and teach a couple things to us guys down here.”
Just a few hours up the road, Davies says he’s pretty familiar with what the Golden Bears have to offer – having attended numerous football camps and wandered the campus with dreams of stepping onto Foote Field in the same jersey his coach wore before him.
“It’s so exciting,” he said. “They have a phenomenal academic program there. I know it’s one of the bigger priorities there and I’m really excited to be a part of that. Then also their football team is phenomenal and their facilities are great. I’ve been going to all their winter skills camps, a lot of camps there, and I’ve got to see around the campus and it’s phenomenal. I love everything about that school.”
As for his high school squad, Davies says he hopes this year’s resurgence on the gridiron will inspire more of the city’s top young football athletes to choose Crescent Heights in the future.
“It’s a phenomenal program with great coaches,” he said. “All the coaches spend many hours working on their game plan, working on workout routines, and obviously they don’t get paid for it. It just shows how much they truly love to be a part of this game and be a part of this family we have at Crescent Heights.”